Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wordless Adventures for the Imaginative and Minuscule

Do you like my use of the word minuscule?  I recently got my paws on a Thesaurus,
which originally I thought was a type of dinosaur.  It's not!  It's full of pages and pages of words, and if you are a dog with a blog, you need all the help you can get thinking of new ways to say things.  After all, my world is very limited.

My minuscule person, the-one-who-plays-with-my-ears, liked these three books.  She especially liked them because she is learning to read and that makes her tired and cranky.  These have no words, so you can "read" them using the picture-walk method alone.  I am going to share my take on these three new books.
Link to book in SAILS Network

"Hank Finds an Egg" by Rebecca Dudley is a visual delight. She is an artist of many skills, and this is her first picture book.  The setting is Storywood Forest, the main character a little soft creature named Hank.  Even using my sniffing skills I could not tell what kind of animal he was, he just smelled like new book pages.  He finds an egg that belongs in a nest way up in a tree.  He tries, but can't return it to the nest, so cares for it during the night.  My favorite image is of his cozy campsite.  Will this book have a happy ending?  You bet!  Take it home and enter this magical world, seemingly free of cats but full of amazing detail and sweet kindness.  The author has a blog,

Link to book in SAILS Network
Link to book in SAILS Network

"Journey" by Aaron Becker is like "Harold and the Purple Crayon", with extra gravy on top.  Red is the special color, setting a young girl free from her drab apartment in the city where everyone else is too busy to play with her.  A red crayon makes a red door that opens on an incredible squirrel's paradise with lanterns.  I didn't see any squirrels, so they must have known I was coming and hidden in the huge trees.  From here the adventure gets more and more outrageous and exciting, and there is danger, too.  But a friend appears to save the day, and real life becomes full of promise.

Wow, I am really using this Thesaurus a lot for this entry.  I bet you think I'm a pretty intelligent dog, despite my inability to learn even the most basic commands, like "sit".

The last book is called "Inside Outside" by Lizi Boyd.  The only characters are a young child and a black dog.  Mom or Dad must be nearby, but they are never in the way.  Using the Thesaurus, I know to say "the color palette is very limited, giving a cohesion to the action as we make our way through the seasons."  There are cutouts for the windows so you can see the seasons change outside, and watch as the playroom changes also.  If you are a tired parent who allows too much TV because you are overwhelmed, but you feel badly about it and want to make a change, take this book home!  Watch the little child use nothing but his imagination and what he finds around him to explore and create, see how the parents let him draw and build and paint.  They don't worry about the mess, or about him getting wet in the puddles, or about that cat sleeping in a bowl on the counter, or even the mice participating in the art!  Let go of your ideas of a perfect house, because the perfect house is your child's brain, allowed to grow unfettered!  And I think that dirt and dog hair are part of that perfect expansive environment!  So there.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Holly Black, or, "Where Have My Bones Gone?!"

Do you like books about friends?  What about books with kids doing adventurous things, maybe things that  are a little dangerous, things that could happen only in books?  Do you like spooky?  Well, if you're hankering after a book that contains all of those things you need look no further than Holly Black's new book, "Doll Bones".  I shiver just thinking about that doll, and the way she moves on her own.  9 and up is probably a good age to read about what happens in this book.
What does this have to do with bones?  You'll never guess, so I'll tell you just a little!  A girl in the past met a tragic end (it involved a squishy, flattening experience - much like the mole from my last entry).  Her heartbroken father did something really gross and she ended up becoming a part of this doll that three friends, the hero and heroines of this book, find years later.  They have a dangerous and crazy adventure without parental permission, which you should never do!  It makes for a great, adventurous, and spooky story though.

Well, I for one am never going to do that to any bones, no matter how beloved!  It's downright frightening!  I like to sniff at bones, and chomp on them, and dig holes for them, maybe taunt the cats a little...

I guess besides chewing on bones you can also use them to help solve mysteries and crimes!  I didn't know this until I read, "Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve History's Mysteries" by Elizabeth MacLeod.  I didn't even know history had mysteries.  Gosh, I don't even know what history is!

Anyway, this book is so interesting for extra-intelligent dogs and children ages 9 and up.  There's lots of pictures of bones and body parts, and true crime stories involving famous dead people like Napoleon and King Tut and Grand Duchess Anastasia.  How did they really die, and who probably killed them?  Find out about what amazing technology is now being used to solve old cases and new.  I think I'd become a dog detective if I had opposable thumbs.  Maybe I can help just by sniffing and gnawing at the bones.

Don't worry, you can still enjoy books about bones if you are 7 and younger.  Lisze Bechtold wrote a book called "Buster & Phoebe: The Great Bone Game".  This one is not scary, but it does have a little bossiness, some bullying, some lying, some subterfuge.  Turns out not all dogs are upstanding citizens!  Buster is a good boy, and is my favorite color for a dog.  Phoebe is older, with super curly ears, and she does not behave in a virtuous way.  The 'bone game' is not very fair, and let's be honest, Buster is not the brightest bulb in the dog universe.  However, he has heart, and he wins the game in a very satisfying way at the end.  I love the pictures, and there's lots of them.

If you are in preschool and you feel like being spooked just a little try "Skeleton Hiccups" by Margery Cuyler.  Skeletons are definitely a little scary, but seeing one trying to drink water upside down to get rid of hiccups is hilarious.  You also get to bark along to the silly hiccup sounds.  This one is a good read right before Halloween, which I just know is probably one of your favorite holidays because of all the candy.  I like Thanksgiving, you can probably guess why - turkey bones!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I Have Got to Get Out More!


After rolling on a flattened mole on my nightly walk I jumped up to snuggle on Dad's pillow and noticed a pile of books.  They were sort of the same size, but all had very different covers.  Then I noticed a name was on all of them:  Margaret Read MacDonald.  If I were to look her up on Wikipedia I would probably find a lot of information about her, but I am a dog so I am not going to do that.  I will make some guesses about her.

1:  She has been writing for a long time.  I can tell because her hair is grey like Grammie's.
2:  She likes folktales because that's what all of these books are.
3:  She has either traveled a lot or done a lot of reading.  I will tell you how I know later.
4:  She likes an occasional muffin.  I can tell because she is roundish like a muffin.

How do I know she has either traveled or read a lot?  Because these books all take place in different countries!  This is also how I know that I need to get out more.  I didn't even know there were different countries.  All I know is this little messy house full of love and scratched-up upholstered furniture and the streets around us.  Admittedly I am surrounded by tantalizing squirrels and rabbits, but that does not an exciting life make!  Now I know about other countries and I am going to secretly plan some vacations to places where they eat sausages.  Don't tell Mom.

Here are my observations about these books:

Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale
Cat can't stop eating!  You should see the inside of his stomach with everyone in there.  And no, it is not your typical food.  Remind me not to swallow anyone holding sewing scissors.

The Great Smelly, Slobbery, Small-Tooth Dog:  A Folktale from Great Britain
Land of Kidney Pie and other savory meats!  None in the book, though.  Despite the slobber the dog is lovely and the pictures are amazing.  The lesson of the book is that all dogs, no matter how slobbery, should be called "Sweet as a Honeycomb".  Oh my gosh, he's not even a dog!!!  I feel gypped!


Mabela the Clever  (from Africa)
Another cat - not a nice one, if such a thing exists.  Unlike the mole I rolled on the mouse heroine is very smart and saves the day.  If you are near any especially nefarious cats watch out for the Fo Feng!

The Boy from the Dragon Palace  (from Japan)
A poor flower seller is granted wishes but gets too greedy and loses everything.  The moral is:  just because a child is dirty and is constantly picking his nose doesn't mean you should forget to say thank you when he brings you good luck.  At least I think that's the lesson, I was frankly a little grossed out.

How Many Donkeys?:  An Arabic Counting Tale
Learn to count in Arabic!  This funny tale is short, with a man who goes from unlucky to lucky again and again in a very funny way.  If you're at least as smart as I am you will probably get the joke.

Too Many Fairies:  A Celtic Tale
I couldn't find the country of Celtic on the map.  "Arabic" was elusive as well.  I'm confused.  Anyway, if you complain about housework you might get a visit from helpful fairies that then go wild in your house and don't want to leave.  Sounds good, you think, but you'd be wrong.

I just found a hacky sack so I must go!  Perhaps I'll see you at a sausage stand in some foreign land.